BOSTON // Rajon Rondo hit the deck hard, grimacing after being fouled. Glen Davis played through dizziness from a concussion. Rasheed Wallace put up with a painful back. The Boston Celtics needed some time off. That is just what they got, with a five-day break between games before starting the NBA finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. Doc Rivers, their coach, gave his players two days off after they beat Orlando in six games to wrap up the Eastern Conference title.
Paul Pierce is another player who needs a respite from the battering he took in the physical series with the Magic. "I've got a couple injuries that I kind of want to cure. Just minor stuff like foot, back, stuff like that," Pierce said. "But nothing major for me, you know. Running into Dwight Howard really doesn't help your body." In Game 5, Davis was levelled by an inadvertent elbow to the face from Howard. Dazed, he struggled to his feet then zigzagged up court on rubbery legs before falling into the arms of Joey Crawford, the referee, near midcourt. Two days later, Davis contributed six points and seven rebounds in Game 6.
"I was kind of dizzy a little bit because of the loud noise and just the adrenaline," Davis said. "I just thought, just go out there and play." Rondo was floored by Jason Williams while driving to the basket during Game 6. He landed awkwardly on his back. "He's going to be OK," Rivers said. "I'm more concerned with Rasheed, honestly. Rasheed got tight. You could see it." None of the ailments are as devastating as the injury that hurt the Celtics last season. Kevin Garnett missed the play-offs with a bad knee and Boston were eliminated by Orlando in seven games in the Eastern semi-finals.
Rivers made it a priority to have his team healthy for the play-offs, even if it meant losing regular-season games. The Celtics went 27-27 in their last 54 after starting the season 23-5. * AP